The controversial Liverpool striker’s World Cup dream looks to be in tatters after he was caught appearing to bite Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s Group D clash
By Rich Jolly
The incident had only happened a few minutes earlier when the first jokes emerged. Now he had enjoyed three meals. He liked an Italian for dinner. And so on. There is humour to be found in everything.
More than anything, though, Luis Suarez retains the capacity to shock. Even when he has bitten two other players, it is astonishing that a repeat offender should assault – and it was an assault – an opponent in the World Cup.
Suarez being Suarez, he got away with it at first. He wasn’t sent off for biting Otman Bakkal or Branislav Ivanovic either. He wasn’t dismissed for taking a mouthful of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini either (by the by, there is something sad when a referee does not believe a player showing teeth marks in his shoulder – how else did he think Chiellini sustained them?).
But in a world of umpteen camera angles, he cannot escape justice for long. He has already incurred seven- and 10-match suspensions for biting. His latest ban should be longer, because it is evident he has not been rehabilitated. He does not seem to have felt any remorse.
At the very least, his World Cup will be over. It would be justice for Suarez, too, if Uruguay’s were in the next round, minus their best player. Actions ought to have repercussions and, all too often, his have been disgraceful.
A Suarez storm occurs on an annual basis. In the 2010-11 season, he bit Bakkal. In 2011-12, he racially abused Patrice Evra. In 2012-13, he tasted Ivanovic. When he was voted PFA Player of the Year and Footballer of the Year for the 2013-14 season, it prompted suggestions that he had achieved redemption.
They were nonsensical. Suarez is a very fine footballer who had an outstanding year, but football excellence cannot compensate for everything else. We were told, too, that he was a changed man. As his 2013-14 campaign surely concludes in a further scandal, it is with proof that he is not.
Suarez certainly hasn’t been helped by the apologists who blame anyone else for his every misdemeanour. Excuses have been made for his misconduct. They cannot be anymore, even by those whose love of his talent and desire for his prolific goalscoring to continue have caused them to mislay their moral compass.
If Fifa are to have any credibility, they have to issue a severe suspension. It could carry on far into the next year of international football. It might even entail a ban from all football, impacting upon his club career. His latest misdemeanour did not occur in Liverpool’s colours, but they have indulged him too often. So, judging from head coach Oscar Tabarez’s post-match comments, have Uruguay,
Suarez’s actions are made all the worse as, on each occasion, there is scant evidence of any provocation and because his cannibalistic response cannot be compared to a head-butt, a punch or a reckless tackle. It is far worse.
He needs to come to terms with what he has done. There was a slight acknowledgement at the end, as he looked almost mournful despite Uruguay’s qualification for the last 16. He was pictured holding his teeth in the final few minutes, a sign of the pain he had caused himself.
In other circumstances, it would have been vaguely comical. Here it was the sign of the most shameful moment of this World Cup.